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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Get Peppy Or Get Out

Get Peppy Or Get Out - New York Times

Much has been written about football players as a disturbed overclass, but on Super Bowl Sunday, let's not neglect that other all-American totem: the cheerleader. Once content with frothy squeals, today's cheerleaders can boast that their athletic, high-difficulty displays cause more deaths and injuries than any high-school or college women's sport. Driven to interpersonal frenzies, they can also get downright nasty:

*Last fall, two high-school cheerleaders from Bainbridge Island, Wash., spiked the drink of a fellow cheerleader with vomit-inducing ipecac syrup. Although police discounted the incident as a possible prank, Ann Noble, mother of a cheerleader who wasn't involved, disagreed. ''They wanted to put her out of the game,'' she said, ''because they didn't think she was a good enough cheerleader.''

*Citing safety concerns, Andrews High School in Andrews, Tex., prohitibted Callie Smartt, who has cerebral palsy and led cheers in a wheelchair, from traveling to away games and cheering on the sideline at home games. Her colleagues' reaction: relief. ''It was like she was forced on us,'' the head cheerleader, Jennifer Francis, told a local paper. ''We got sick of it.''

*Karen Reamey, the mother of a junior-varsity cheerleader in Rustburg, Va., was recently convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery for shoving, punching and ripping the wig off another cheerleader's mother in the middle of a squad practice. Motive? An argument over a $5 fee for after-practice cheerleader snacks.
Reacting to the form's broader pathologies, the X-Cheerleaders, a New York-based group of dancers and former cheerleaders, perform feminist cheers at venues all over the country. Though their shows poke fun at cheerleading's misdeeds, a co-director, Jody Oberfelder, still prefers cheering to football. ''I can't get very excited about people running into each other,'' says Oberfelder, who is skipping the Super Bowl. ''Cheerleaders are powerful women doing amazing group acrobatics. It's those silly uniforms that make them look like Barbie dolls.''
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